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Katara is a beautiful young female Waterbender, born and raised in the Southern Water Tribe by her grandmother, Kanna, alongside her big brother Sokka as well as the deuteragonist of Avatar: The Last Airbender and one of the supporting characters in The Legend of Korra. Katara was not only a Waterbender, but the last and only one capable of the art in her tribe. As a child, she lived a peaceful, merry life with her family's love, until she lost her mother in a Fire Nation raid. Years after this tragedy, during her teenage years, she and her brother discovered the young Air Nomad Avatar, Aang, who had been encased for one hundred years within a sphere of ice. In need of a Waterbending teacher, the siblings and Aang left the South Pole for the Northern Water Tribe. Katara and Sokka eventually became close friends of Aang, and after their journey to the North Pole, continued to travel with him across the world as he mastered the remaining elements, Earth and Fire. The siblings' assistance helped Aang halt the Fire Nation's ambitions of world domination, ending the century-long war, and finally restoring balance to the world.
70 years after the war, Katara is now a widow, a mother, and a grandmother but she still is a water bending teacher to the new Avatar, Korra.
When Katara was a young girl, her mother was killed in a Fire Nation raid. This event had a tremendous impact on Katara's life and personality and arguably shaped her into the person she became. She was emotionally driven, involving herself completely in the heartache and needs of those around her. Placing her whole heart in the affairs of others, as well as bearing her own heartache, she was often easily reduced to tears. According to Sokka, Katara largely prevented their family from falling apart and took on many responsibilities to the point where she filled the void left by their mother (so much that he pictured her in place of his mother). As such, Katara had a maternal personality and often acted as a motherly figure to the group, something that often irritated the rebellious Toph. Her loss was also part of what drove her in her fight against the Fire Nation, although she did not exhibit as much outward prejudice as her brother. She was also a bit of a stickler for morality, even to the point of causing Sokka and Aang to faint from shock when she stated she wanted to pull a scam, as she had berated Toph for scamming people. According to Sokka, she was an optimist.
She had a soft spot for children. When aiding in baby Hope's birth, she stated that she helped her grandmother deliver many babies in their tribe, and in Jang Hui, she gave a portion of her food to a little boy. She even went as far as to care for and defend Tom-Tom, Mai's little brother, despite the fact that he was from the Fire Nation and that everyone else, with the exception of Aang, was distrustful of him for it.
Katara was caring and compassionate, and was often marked by a fierce determination to aid others. She stated herself that she would never turn away from people who need her help. Katara was even willing to defend Fire Nation civilians such as when she helped the village of Jang Hui and when she fought Hama, who was from the Southern Water Tribe, to protect the Fire Nation village she was living in. This strong desire often frustrated others, particularly Sokka.
Katara was portrayed as the most mature member of the group, rarely taking part in Sokka and Aang's goofy pranks and Toph's less silly ones, though she did have a sense of humor. Katara was described as being motherly by Toph and Sokka. While the team traveled through the Si Wong Desert, Katara was able to hold the group together in its most desperate moments.
On the other hand, Katara could be overly domineering. For all her kindness and compassion, she was sometimes self-righteous, had a nasty temper, and could be fierce when provoked. With lack of sleep, this side of her can quickly become more apparent. She was also set in her ideals and frequently refused to relent on her views in the face of opposition. Combined with her strong sense of compassion, this gave her a strong sense of justice and she would run headlong into often dangerous situations to help others, which was best illustrated at the prison rig and at Jang Hui. Her short temper had frequently clashed with others; she showed open, but short-lived, jealousy of Aang's talent, and was frequently perturbed by Toph's confrontational and rebellious nature.
Despite being one of the more compassionate members of the group, Katara was one of the least willing to let go of a grudge, especially against those who she felt had betrayed her trust. She held a considerable grudge against those who had threatened Aang, as Zuko had, or done things she considered morally wrong, like Jet. At the Western Air Temple she showed outright hostility toward Zuko and threatened to kill him if he slipped back to his old ways. Upon her re-encounter with Jet, Katara reacted hostilely at the mere sight of him, and she was harsh and unforgiving of Zuko even long after he had joined Team Avatar and gained the trust of everyone else. However, this could be because Zuko's betrayal of her at Ba Sing Se was far more personal than his betrayal of anyone else. For a while, she was also argumentative with her father because she felt that he had abandoned her and Sokka when he left to fight in the War. However, Katara was sometimes willing to give people second chances; with much reluctance, she allowed Jet to guide Team Avatar to Appa, and she appeared to be saddened by his death. Also, she offered to try and heal Zuko's scar when they were enemies. Eventually, even after his betrayal, Katara decided to forgive him, embracing him as a friend, after he helped her find the man who killed her mother.
Katara was marked by a fierce desire to learn waterbending, viewing it as a part of her and her culture that needed to be expressed. She also may have viewed it as a hope for rebuilding her tribe. Her enthusiasm for waterbending caused her to constantly train herself in the art, and when she finally found a master to teach her formally, she became overjoyed. Having quickly advanced under the tutelage of Master Pakku, he stated that Katara accomplished this due to her fierce determination, passion and hard work.
Sokka told Toph that Katara could be a pain and would get "involved and in-your-business". Even so, Katara was understanding of other people's privacy. This was best demonstrated when Katara continually scolded Sokka for snooping around Hama's inn and rummaging through her personal belongings.
Motherly and feminine as she might be, Katara was not afraid to go beyond her feminine looks and way of being to achieve what she wanted. When she and Toph were denied entrance to a rowdy pub because the both of them were girls, they dressed up as boys. Katara in particular showed her masculine side when wanting to ride the pub's mechanized bull; she was even willing to start an all-out brawl with some of the guys there who mocked her ability to stay on the bull. The whole thing ended with Toph dragging Katara away before things came to a head. Katara and Toph later went to a spa and reflected on how being a girl was not so bad at all.
Katara's most notable ability was her waterbending. She rapidly developed her skill at the art, and her fierce resolve to master the element helped her become one of the most powerful waterbending masters. She was identified as a waterbender when she was a small child. As she grew older, she kept practicing even though she did not have a teacher, and learned whatever little she could with great ambition, while ignoring the criticism of Sokka, as he downplayed her ability to bend, referring to it as "magic water".
Over the course of her childhood, with her father having been unable to obtain her a master, Katara taught herself basic waterbending techniques and managed to master some simple waterbending forms. This was a difficult feat, considering she would have never had the chance to have observed any waterbending in practice.
As of the discovery of Aang at the South Pole, Katara was capable of "pushing and pulling" water, streaming small amounts and manipulating it into basic forms and movements, and was beginning to gain some control over the ability to change its physical state, freezing it into ice, as well as attempting to create sizable waves of water. What little she knew, she taught to Aang, who quickly mastered all she had to offer. That which had taken her years to achieve, Aang managed to imitate and outperform her within mere minutes, much to her envy and frustration.
Her waterbending remained amateurish at best until she came across a Northern Water Tribe waterbending scroll depicting several different traditional waterbending forms, among a collection of wares in a pirate-traders ship. Unable to afford the high price demanded for the scroll by the pirates, yet incapable of passing up such an opportunity to finally have formal instruction in waterbending, she deftly stole the scroll and eventually made away with it. Katara and Aang first learned the water whip technique from the scroll, and afterward continued to improve their overall technique. Up until their arrival at the Northern Water Tribe, both Katara and Aang demonstrated considerable improvement, and Katara's confidence in her own abilities increased dramatically.
Later, Katara demonstrated the ability to bend with much greater precision and ease compared to when she first stole the scroll. She was able to draw unseen water out of different sources and bend greater quantities in general, streaming them into powerful blasts and freezing water with much more control than before. She later developed several of her own techniques, including cloud manipulation and a hand-held variation on the water-whip technique. Katara also demonstrated greater manipulation of ice and snow, as well as discovered her ability to heal. In the time between her acquisition of the waterbending scroll and arrival at the North Pole, Katara's sheer determination and discipline saw her proficiency improve greatly, clearly surpassing that of Aang.
Katara's pride, strong-mindedness and sense of justice caused conflict with the traditions of the Northern Water Tribe, which forbade women from learning combat focused waterbending. Katara, furious at having traveled to the opposite end of the Earth, only to be denied instruction by irrational customs, challenged the master waterbending instructor of the Northern Water Tribe, Pakku, to a duel. Though she was undoubtedly no match for the master, she valiantly held her own, determined not to be beaten. She demonstrated not only more advanced techniques than she ever had previously, but also a surprising amount of agility and skill in physical combat, as well as greater proficiency in basic waterbending techniques she had previously learned. For the first time, she was seen bending with her feet, employing nonbending hand and foot strikes in combat, and transforming the physical state of a wave. Pakku eventually removed her ability to bend by trapping her body and limbs between spikes of ice, and so won the fight without harming her. Though he admitted that she was an exceptionally talented waterbender, he rigidly stuck by the laws of his culture and refused to teach Katara.
At the fight's conclusion, Pakku discovered Katara's necklace which had broken off during their duel. Recognizing the carved pendant, he revealed that the necklace had originally been given to Kanna by himself as a symbol of their engagement sixty years prior. After realizing Katara was the granddaughter of his ex-fiancée, who had left the Northern Water Tribe to escape their arranged marriage, he decided to instruct Katara in combative waterbending.
Under the guidance of Master Pakku, Katara's waterbending abilities advanced quicker than that of any student he had ever trained, which he accredited to her fierce determination, passion and hard-work. She fought and defeated Zuko with the augmented power of the near-full moon. During the fight, she knocked him off his feet, deflected and shielded his attacks, imprisoned him in a dome of solid ice, and later, a wave of solid ice. Though she was defeated by Zuko after the sun rose, she fought him again with the full moon and defeated him easily.
Following the Siege of the North, Pakku declared Katara a full-fledged waterbending master.
Katara continued to hone her waterbending potential, regularly demonstrating her waterbending mastery in battle. In Omashu, Katara blocked a flurry of Mai's knives by waterbending wooden boards into the air as shields in front of herself. She managed to block Mai's hand arrows with ice and retaliated by freezing Mai's arm in ice. Ty Lee sneaked behind Katara and blocked her chi, preventing her from waterbending. While in the swamp, Katara cut apart the vines holding her with the water stored in her pouch. In the battle where she, Aang, and Sokka fought against Huu, Katara created large waves in the swamp water, froze a part of the swamp monster, and created a coil of water that she used to blast a hole into the monster. She also created large round blades out of the water and used them to cut up Huu's monster. Later, she easily defeated two earthbending students by freezing them in solid ice.
When facing Ty Lee a second time, Katara fought using the water in her pouch to fend off her chi blocking attacks, forcing Ty Lee to cartwheel away from disks of razor-sharp water. She also stopped Azula from killing Aang by catching her hand in a water whip. While crossing the Serpent's Pass, she made a bridge of ice for the group to travel across, and worked with Aang to support an underwater bubble for the group to travel in. She also surfed around on a surfboard of ice and, together with Aang, created a massive whirlpool to defeat the serpent.
She also rapidly condensed water vapor into ice to defeat her foes. When assaulting Jet upon re-encountering him, she used ice spikes, similar to Mai's daggers, to pin Jet to the wall in an alley. While fighting off the Royal Earthbender Guards, Katara defeated dozens of them with whips and streams of water. In the Crystal Catacombs, Katara and Aang fought against Zuko and Azula. Katara managed to cut one of Azula's hair bangs with a water blade, and created two enormous whips of water, which she used to briefly trap Azula. Later, these whips were able to match Zuko's enormous fire whips. Finally, when Katara was surrounded by Dai Li agents, she defended herself with the octopus form, and rode on an enormous wave which knocked down these agents as well as Zuko. She proceeded to escape on a rising stream of water, carrying Aang to safety.
Katara's waterbending later became even more advanced and destructive. During a fight with a Fire Nation ship, Katara used a huge wave to separate the two ships and created a huge steam barrier between them for cover. Once their ship was hit by a harpoon, Katara used her frosty breath of waterbending to freeze the hole in the ship's hull, thus repairing it. When Aang held a dance for some of his Fire Nation school friends, Katara also created a fountain out of solid ice for beverages, as well as the glasses they used to drink from. At the Jang Hui River, Katara created a cover of steam and sped herself atop the water's surface. Assisted by Aang, she used crashing waves and precise missiles of water to destroy a Fire Nation Army factory. She also blasted a Fire Nation river craft into the air and against a cliff. Katara also transported a huge bubble of water from a nearby creek to extinguish a fire. When Combustion Man locked Katara and Toph in jail, Katara used her own sweat as a water knife to break out of a wooden prison cell. During Katara's time hiding within the Fire Nation, she met an elderly woman named Hama, who turned out to be a fellow waterbending master from the Southern Water Tribe. After learning this, Hama began training her in Southern Style waterbending. Among many techniques and combat tactics, Katara became able to condense moisture in the air to create her own water source for her bending, as well as becoming aware she could remove water from plant life.
On the Day of Black Sun, Katara fought against the Fire Nation guards at the capital, destroying several guard towers with Sokka and defeating many soldiers. At the Western Air Temple, she rained ice spikes onto Combustion Man. While tracking down her mother's killer, she used the enhanced power of the full moon to nearly take down a whole Fire Nation ship of the Southern Raiders single-handedly. During her encounter with Yon Rha, Katara created a large wide dome of water by gathering rainwater and created ice spikes from it, nearly killing him. Finally, during Sozin's Comet, she froze herself and Azula into a block of solid ice, thawed the center of it, and chained Azula to a grate.
Katara's innate aptitude toward waterbending abilities made her a rare case to also naturally have access to the incredible ability to heal by manipulating the chi paths in a person's body, including herself. She inadvertently discovered this ability after Aang accidentally burned her hands, and subsequently used this power again to heal Aang's own burn after his face-off with Admiral Zhao. Once she reached the Northern Water Tribe, she further developed this ability by training with Yugoda.
With the aid of a small vial of spirit water, which held special properties, from the Spirit Oasis, Katara's healing abilities were enhanced. Katara was going to use the spiritual water from the Spirit Oasis in an attempt to heal Zuko's scar, but Aang and Iroh burst in, making Zuko angry at Iroh for allying with the Avatar. Instead, she later used the spirit water to bring Aang back to life after he had been struck in the back by Azula's lightning. Katara unsuccessfully attempted to heal Jet after he was fatally wounded by Long Feng. During the invasion, Katara's father, Hakoda, was injured while taking out a Fire Nation ballista tower. Aiding him, her healing was enough to allow him to walk again. During Azula and Zuko's Agni Kai, Azula generated lightning and aimed it at Katara rather than Zuko; however, Zuko jumped in front of Katara and let the lightning shock him instead, sparing her from near death. After chaining Azula to a water grate, Katara used her healing to aid Zuko. Her healing had been successful enough that he could rise to his feet just moments after she had begun.
As an adult, her prowess continued to grow, as she became well-recognized in her abilities throughout the world. She proved herself to be an excellent waterbending teacher, having trained both Avatars Aang and Korra to become highly adept masters themselves, including teaching Korra the art of healing. However, even though her healing skills were recognized to be "the best in the world", she could not restore Korra's bending after Amon severed the connection Korra had to the three elements other than air with his bloodbending.
After learning all of Hama's Southern Style skills, Hama decided to teach Katara bloodbending, an advanced ability to manipulate the water within the body of all living beings, controlling them like puppets. When Katara refused to learn such a technique, viewing it as dark and immoral, Hama decided to silence her with the said technique. Despite only just hearing about the skill, Katara showed an innate talent for the art, quickly becoming the first person to break the effects of Hama's bending grip and free herself. Ultimately however, Hama tricked Katara into utilizing bloodbending to save Sokka and Aang, leaving her greatly distressed. Sometime later, Katara traveled with Zuko to hunt down the man who killed her mother, Yon Rha, the captain of the Southern Raiders. The night they arrived at the Southern Raiders' ship, under the full moon, she alone took out nearly the entire crew. When she discovered where the captain was, she let her anger take over and started using bloodbending on him, which stunned Zuko. When she looked into his eyes and discovered that he was not the one, she released him, shocked and dismayed that she had just used bloodbending on an innocent person. Though this was the last known time she used the technique, she came to greatly understanding its workings, as she was able to determine how Amon had used bloodbending to remove Korra's bending. Later on in life, Katara saw to it that bloodbending was made illegal in the United Republic.
Katara had little combat skills apart from her bending, which often led to her defeat, such as during her fight with Master Pakku, in which she unleashed a series of quick, fast jabs, which he easily blocked or dodged and countered with a powerful water blast. Like all waterbenders, Katara was rendered helpless when her arms were restrained, or were affected in a way that would prevent her from bending. This was different from other benders that had combat skills to a certain degree, such as Zuko, who had extensive knowledge on the art of sword fighting. Despite being unable to fight in close combat, Katara exhibited remarkable agility and acrobatic skill, such as when she performed a dance with Aang. Furthermore, Katara was resourceful and had a remarkable ability to adapt to her environment, reflecting on the fundamentals of her element, being that of change, such as using her own sweat as a catalyst for her waterbending. Despite being cut off from the rest of the world, Katara possessed a healthy knowledge of spirituality and was one of the few to possess a deep respect for spiritual and cultural matters, unlike her brother Sokka. Katara was also versed in midwifery, demonstrated in her crucial role in delivering Tahn and Ying's baby, Hope.
Katara's knowledge of healing extended outside the waterbending subskill, being versed in physiotherapy, as evidenced when she guided Korra to walk again.